Hot Fuzz Review
By Shawn McKenzie 05/23/2007
Sgt. Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is the best cop in London…which as evidenced by an arrest record 400% higher than anyone else on the force. He even took out a dangerous criminal dressed as Santa (an un-credited cameo by director Peter Jackson.) He is so good that he makes the rest of the police force look bad. So…Metropolitan Chief Inspector Kenneth (Bill Nighy), along with Angel’s superiors (Martin Freeman and an un-credited Steve Coogan), decide to re-assign him to the sleepy village of Sanford…which is known as the safest place in England. Angel considers it a demotion, but his superiors spin it to say that he will be made Chief Inspector of the town. He has to say goodbye to his girlfriend Janine (an un-credited Cate Blanchett), who is having an affair with a co-worker named Dave (Chris Waitt) anyway. When Angel arrives and checks into the Swan Hotel, run by Bernard and Joyce Cooper (Eric Mason and Billie Whitelaw), he stops by the local pub, run by Roy and Mary Porter (Peter Wight and Julia Deakin), to have a cranberry juice. He notices that the pub is filled with underage drinkers, so he busts them. He also hauls in the only overage drinker who was going to attempt to drink and drive. The next morning, Angel comes into the police station and meets the Sanford force. It consists of the widowed Captain Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent) and officers Andy Wainwright (Paddy Considine), Andy Cartwright (Rafe Spall), Tony Fisher (Kevin Eldon), the mumbling Bob Walker (Karl Johnson), and lone female cop Doris Thatcher (Olivia Colman.) He is also surprised to find out that the drunk from the night before is actually Danny Butterman (Nick Frost)…Frank’s son and Angel’s new partner. Danny is very excited to be working with Angel, because he has heard the tales of Angel’s work in London. He asks him if Angel has ever done anything like he has seen in the cop action movies, and the straight-and-narrow cop denies ever doing anything that showy or heroic. The other cops don’t like Angel’s uptight, by-the-books approach to law enforcement, because the biggest crimes that happen in Sanford are capturing a runaway swan and busting an annoying mime named The Living Statue (Graham Low.) Angel meets businessman Simon Skinner (Timothy Dalton), who runs the village grocery store called Somerfield, and he immediately notices something shifty about him. When some locals…including community theater actors Martin Blower (David Threlfall) and Eve Draper (Lucy Punch), local millionaire George Merchant (Ron Cook), and Sanford Citizen newspaper reporter Tim Messenger (Adam Buxton)…end up dead in very violent ways, everyone assumes that they are random incidents. Angel thinks otherwise, so he and Danny try to find out how sleepy this town actually is.
When I think of spoof movies, I think of the movie that’s become the template of all that followed…1980’s Airplane! The most recent hit spoof was 2000’s Scary Movie (and its three sequels), and it seems like every other spoof that has come out was “written by two of the six writers of Scary Movie.” British import Hot Fuzz is being compared to those movies…but I don’t consider it to be in the same vein as them.
Edgar Wright directed the movie using a screenplay co-written with Pegg. The duo had previously worked on 2004’s Shaun of the Dead…a supposed “parody” of zombie movies. In both cases, I didn’t consider them parodies.
That doesn’t mean that I didn’t like them. In fact…I loved them both. They were regular movies that just happened to be hilarious. Let me try to explain what I mean. Shaun was a regular zombie movie that happened to be funny. Fuzz was a regular buddy action movie that happened to be funny. They took their genres seriously, but they amped up the yuks.
Fuzz could have been just another buddy comedy, but it went another direction. Pegg’s character could have been a cop who makes a bunch of mistakes while staying lovable. Instead, they made him an efficient cop that rarely makes a mistake, which made it so much more amusing when he is transported to a world where busting the local mime or corralling a swan are the biggest disturbances in a sleepy little town. Frost’s character was more of the lovable lump that we’re used to seeing, but in the end, he is redeemed. The chemistry between the two is unmistakable, especially since Pegg and Frost fought zombies together in Shaun.
Instead of calling the movie a “parody,” I would call it a “tribute.” This was especially evident when Danny mentioned his love of 1991’s Point Break and 2003’s Bad Boys II. During the final gunfight, Danny finally gets a chance to enact the scenes from both movies. Just because you do the same thing that was done in a previous movie doesn’t mean it’s a “spoof.” For one thing, the gunfight was expertly done. If it were a spoof, it would have been executed in a silly manner for laughs (not that Fuzz’s scene didn’t have laughs…but it looked so cool that it could have fit into a regular action movie.) One thing that I noticed is that the violence was particularly graphic…almost to horror movie levels. If you check out my review of Bad Boys II, you will notice that I thought the same thing about the violence in that movie…so Fuzz’s tribute to that Will Smith/Martin Lawrence actioner fit in perfectly.
Just referencing another movie doesn’t make it a parody, so Hot Fuzz isn’t a parody in my opinion. If you want to check out an awesome action movie that just happens to be side-splittingly humorous, check out this movie. Wright is starting to become one of my favorite directors, and with this movie and Shaun (along with his Thanksgiving faux movie trailer in this year’s Grindhouse), I can’t wait to see what he does next.
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